Wednesday, 6 October 2010

The Big Society - Don't Ask What Your Country Can Do for You...

David Cameron delivered a great speech this afternoon. It was great because it avoided the usual gimmicks - it wasn't all eye-catching initiatives and prepared sound-bytes - well not new ones. And that was the best thing about it. It was a speech that learned the lesson of hastily prepared initiatives that backfire (e.g. child tax credits) and just delivered some reality.

But. Cameron described it as 'A Call to Arms' which all sounds great - We have a major problem - We all need to pull together and do....what exactly?

And that's the question. Was he just saying that we should all pull together by not complaining too much if we lose our jobs and not complaining too much if our incomes don't rise but, in real terms, fall? Or was he proposing something positive that we can all do?

So whilst it was a great speech and it was a 'Call to Arms' there is no obvious way for people to participate...

In 1940 when Churchill came to power he similarly called people to arms - in defence of our nation. The difference was that he offered a way in which people could actually do it. He formed the LDV, the Local Defence Volunteer which later became known as the Home Guard.

And that's exactly what Cameron needs to do now - create a mass participation scheme of people prepared to volunteer - to pledge a few hours of their time per week to doing the kind of things that the state has to stop doing because it can't afford to any more.

But in the absence of such a scheme I have decided to try and get selected as a local councillor and run for election in next year's local elections.


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